You may know Jackson as the main rapper, lead dancer, and face of GOT7—but before that, he had a long and interesting journey. Here’s how Jackson went from a kid struggling with ADHD to one of the biggest superstars across Asia.

Jackson may have impressive Korean skills, but he’s actually from Hong Kong. He was born in Kowloon Tong on March 28, 1994 to athlete parents.

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Jackson as a baby.

Jackson’s father, Wang Ruiji, was once a professional fencer who won a gold medal at the Asian Games. His mother was equally athletic, getting her start as an acrobatics gymnast in Shanghai.

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Jackson with his parents. | @jacksonwang852g7/Instagram

Naturally, given his parents’ backgrounds, Jackson soon jumped into the world of sports himself. He began training in gymnastics like his mother at a young age.

However, gymnastics is known to influence the body’s growth. Out of fear that Jackson wouldn’t grow taller, his parents transitioned him to fencing at the age of 10.

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Jackson as a child.

Training under his father along with other accomplished fencing coaches, Jackson soon became a highly awarded competitor. In 2010, he ranked #11 at the Summer Youth Olympics.

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Jackson as a teen.

But his life and school didn’t go so smoothly. As a child, Jackson attended a regular public school. However, his teacher found him to be far too active, talkative, and fidgety in class.

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Jackson as a child.

Eventually, Jackson’s teacher suggested that he might have ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), a psychological condition which causes poor focus and impulsive behavior.

The teacher recommended that Jackson attend an international school, believing it would be a better fit for his needs.

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Jackson as a child.

Thankfully, Jackson has since revealed that his time at the American International School Hong Kong (which likely contributed to his great English skills) went well, as many other students there also had ADHD. And, despite his struggles, he continued to thrive in fencing.

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Jackson as a teen.

But while Jackson expected fencing to become his life’s career, everything turned upside down when a representative from JYP Entertainment in South Korea paid a visit to the American International School.

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Jackson as a teen (right).

The 16-year-old sporting star was playing basketball at the time, but the JYP Entertainment casting agent was immediately struck by Jackson’s good looks.

According to Jackson, the representative pulled him aside and told him that if he wanted to become a celebrity, JYP Entertainment would be holding an audition in Kowloon shortly.

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Jackson as a teen.

And despite his athletic career, Jackson agreed to audition—but only because he thought JYP Entertainment was BIGBANG’s agency! A Korean boy at Jackson’s school had recently introduced him to the group, and Jackson was amazed to think the group’s agency had come to scout him.

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BIGBANG in the early 2010s. | YG Entertainment

There were a staggering 2,000 applicants at Jackson’s audition, but his talent managed to carry him through to 1st place. Jackson passed his JYP Entertainment audition in December 2010, but he then had a tough decision to make: become an athlete, or become an idol?

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Jackson as a teen.

At first, Jackson’s parents were opposed to the idea of him joining the entertainment industry. In fact, Jackson’s mom allegedly told him that if he wanted to become a K-Pop idol, he needed to become the best fencer in the continent first.

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Jackson as a teen with his dad.

Many teens would’ve given up at that point, but not Jackson. He carried on fencing after his audition, and with his incredible aptitude for sports, he won two gold medals at the Asian Junior and Cadet Fencing Championship in 2011.

Soon after, he was offered a scholarship to the prestigious Standard University in California to play on the school’s fencing team.

Jackson as a teen.

But thankfully for GOT7 fans, Jackson persisted with his new-found love for performing. With his parents’ blessing, 17-year-old Jackson moved to South Korea in July 2011 to begin his K-Pop training.

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Jackson as a trainee.

However, despite Jackson’s incredible audition placement, he didn’t have any real background in singing or dancing. Unlike in fencing, where he was at the top of the game, Jackson was forced to start from the bottom at JYP Entertainment.

To bring himself up to the other trainees’ levels, he used his athletic stamina to train up to 6 hours more than the other trainees each day.

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Jackson as a trainee.

And, after just over two years of training, 20-year-old Jackson beat out numerous other trainees to become a member of GOT7! The group debuted with “Girls Girls Girls” in January 2014, and quickly began climbing the ladder to become one of the biggest boy groups in South Korea.

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| JYP Entertainment

But Jackson didn’t stop there. Determined to make a name for himself in more than just the Korean music industry, he appeared on numerous variety shows as a rookie—starting with SBS’s Roommate in 2014. He did so well on the show, he went on to win the 2014 SBS Entertainment Awards Rookie trophy.

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And as a Hong Kong native, Jackson is fluent in Chinese—so what better wat to branch out than to join variety shows in China too? Jackson made his Chinese television debut on a show called Go Fridge, which he later wrong the theme song for too.

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Within just a few years, Jackson was a rising star across several countries. And, while Jackson revealed on one Chinese variety show that his ADHD still affects him to this day, he never let it get in the way of his dreams.

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By 2017, Jackson had his own management team (Team Wang), a Chinese solo album, and an English-language single. With the music industry in the palm of his hand, he began to branch out more into advertising. Some of his major endoresements over the years include Pepsi, Adidas, and Lenovo.

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Jackson became so renowned across Asia, he was appointed an Ambassador of Great China, and envoy of Hong Kong tourism, and even got his own wax figure at Madame Tussauds Hong Kong.

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| Madame Tussauds

Most recently, the latest achievement under his belt is the launch of a successful fashion brand, Team Wang Design, with Jackson as the creative director. With all these accolades, it’s no surprise he ranked in the top 50 on Forbes China Celebrity 100 list.

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| Team Wang Design

Even though he’s already come so far, Jackson’s fans are sure he still has numerous good things coming his way—as a member of GOT7, a soloist, a TV personality, a fashion designer, and much more!

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| @jacksonwang852g7/Instagram